This article contains some tips of mine on how you can become a strong, quick, self-motivated, and correct learner of most topics. In my opinion there are three major components of learning: Technical resources, reasoning skills, and character.
People and things are both useful resources for learning. Social resources include:
- Experts in the field of interest
- Professionals in the field of interest
- Co-learners. This includes both interested peers and disinterested friends or amateurs who are interested in helping you learn, even if they are not particularly interested in learning for themselves.
In other words, three social learning resources include schools, job experience, and social networks. Some good non-social resources include:
- Khan Academy, Udemy, and other online learning resources
- The rest of the internet
- *gag* Books
It’s hard to learn at all without reasoning skills, and it’s impossible to learn well without them. Here are 4 skills you’ll need, what they do, and why you’ll need them. These skills are subsets of each other in some cases:
- Logical reasoning is important because it helps us understand what is logically true and false. You need this to filter out the large amount of false information you will encounter as you attempt to learn.
- Probabilistic reasoning is a important because lots of information is logically uncertain. Logically speaking, a piece of information may be true, false, or uncertain. Probabilistic reasoning helps us learn and value information even in the face of uncertainty.
- Moral reasoning is important for both practical and ultimate reasons. Practically, more information exists than what could be possibly learned in a lifetime. Moral reasoning helps us rationally chose a prioritized group of information that we can and should learn from the potential information we could learn. Ultimately, moral reasoning also helps us find personal purpose, justification, and value.
- Pragmatic or economic reasoning is important because it allows us to identify what realistically can or will happen. By understanding how we learn realistically we can then optimize our own learning processes and avoid issues such as biting off more than we can chew, or the opportunity cost of not biting off as much as we could chew.
Character is also important. By character I mean non-physical personal characteristics. While physical characteristics might also matter to some degree, I think non-physical characteristics are far more important for learning. Many of these factors can be influenced by nature or nurture, where nature also refers to dietary supplements as well as biological makeup.
- Awareness, mental capital, or prior all refer to the same thing. Having these will help you learn because once you know something about your topic of interest it becomes easier to learn other things.
- Alertness will help you learn more quickly, but it must be balanced against focus.
- Interest in learning makes learning easier. Interest is mental desire, and it may be weak or strong. Weak interest includes natural, superficial, automatic, or instinctual curiosity. Strong, or teleological, interest includes financial incentive or perceived life purpose.
- Focus will help you learn. Focus may result naturally in an ideal environment, or may be achieved arbitrarily through proper exercise of willpower even in a non-ideal environment.
- Willpower is mental effort. Potential willpower may or may not vary naturally, but actual willpower does vary. By exerting mental effort in larger degree and frequency you will be able to learn more, in a way similar to the way in which exercise increases strength.
- Intelligence refers to general mental ability which is not due to variance in effort or willpower. It’s not actually clear if intelligence exists or naturally varies, but if it does then having more would help.
- Consistent mental exercise helps in learning. “Use it or lose it” applies to both general mental competency and specific topical learning.
- Mental stamina refers to the ability to do any of the above things for a prolonged period of time.
- Personal preference and worldview are important components of a person’s character which may serve to modify any of the above, or direct the ways in which they are used.